The gateway to Queensland’s tropical north, Cairns is located about 1,700 kilometres from the state’s capital city, Brisbane. It is a popular travel destination because of its relaxed, tropical climate and laid back ambience. In addition, the city serves as a starting point for tourists wanting to visit the World Heritage wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics of Queensland.
I decided to acquaint myself with one of the world’s oldest rainforest when I was in Cairns recently. It wasn’t that difficult considering that the World Heritage listed rainforest surrounds Cairns in all directions. The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area can be easily accessed and experienced in many ways. While there are many tour operators that can conduct day and overnight tours into the rainforest, I had decided to rent a car to tour at my leisure. I hoped to reach the Daintree Rainforest before making my way back to Cairns.
After picking up my rental car in Cairns, I headed to Palm Cove, a beach community located 27 kilometres north of the city of Cairns, to “refuel” my belly. As the name implies, Palm Cove was named after the palm trees that line the beach. The resort village was small, quiet and very relaxing, it was also absolutely beautiful! How I wished I had book an accommodation here instead of downtown Cairns.
Palm Cove is also one of Australia’s most popular wedding destinations. The beach had won accolades from across Australia for being one of the cleanest and friendliest beach.
From Palm Cove, I headed further north. The brochure I had says this is one of Australia’s most scenic coastal roads and they are definitely not kidding. It was a fantastic drive with the rainforest on one side and the Great Barrier Reef on the other.
There were many fantastic views of the Coral Sea along the coastal road.
One of the best spot to stop and admire the stunning view is Rex Lookout. It is a great spot to see Trinity Bay and the magnificent blue of the ocean stretching out to the horizon. The lookout doubles up as a popular launching pad for hang gliders.
My final destination for the day drive was Mossman Gorge, located in the southern part of Daintree National Park. Mossman Gorge is part of the traditional homeland of the indigenous Eastern Kuku Yalanji people, who also organise guided walk on traditional tracks alongside Mossman Gorge.
The Daintree Rainforest is the largest portion of tropical rainforest in Australia and has managed to survive for over 135 million years. In addition to being one of the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, the Daintree Rainforest is also home to the earth’s largest range of animals and plants.
It’s easy to get up close to the rainforest’s diversity of life on an aerial walkway. The walkway also helps to keep me away from the wet rainforest floor.
Mossman Gorge is impressive. Here, the Mossman River tumbles its way over a narrow gorge, cascading over large granite boulders, before ending up in the swimming hole.
On a hot day, it should be wonderful to take a dip in the refreshing water. I skipped that experience though, as the water in the swimming hole was too icy cold for me!
Stretching out on the granite boulders that had been smoothened by the elements over the aeons and listening to the noises of the surrounding rainforest, it was a wonderful and relaxing experience. I left the gorge late in the evening, catching one of the last shuttle bus that plied between Mossman Gorge and the Visitor Centre, where my car was parked. I was reminded that the shuttle bus (running at approximately 15 minutes interval and costs about $5 for the round-trip) stopped running at 5.30 pm and if I missed the last one, I’ll have to walk 2.5 kilometres back to the Visitor Centre.
From Mossman Gorge, I headed back to Cairns – it was the end of my day trip. However, the journey wouldn’t be complete without stopping at one of the beaches along the coastal drive to have another look at the amazing coastline.